Please refrain from posting animated GIFs, memes, joke videos and so on in discussions other than those in the off topic area.

Dismiss this message to confirm your acceptance of this additional forum term of use.

Pre-Minifigures

dannyrwwdannyrww WisconsinMember Posts: 1,322
edited November 2014 in Collecting
Was going through a box of donated bricks for our school's Lego Club and found these. Thought I would share.
T_LarsLego_smoking_catfishKoolbrix2018

Comments

  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    edited November 2014
    I have several of these from 70s sets (e.g. #314, #363, and #617 ). It's interesting how they were used. They often included brick-built elements (e.g. a 2x2 plate to make them look like they're sitting). The torso and leg pieces are kind of nice from a MOC perspective because I don't believe there is anything else with those shapes.
    krklint
  • The_Mad_VulcanThe_Mad_Vulcan SeattleMember Posts: 162
    Would make good mannequin for a display window in a shop. Or a tailor's mannequin.
    andhe
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,267
    Yeah waiting for @Istokg to see this thread as Im sure he can give you the skinny on these. I really like how the it is used in #1592 :-)
  • dannyrwwdannyrww WisconsinMember Posts: 1,322
    ^that is a neat use for them...I also like the idea of store mannequins...might put a few of these in with the bricks the kids use to see what they come up with.
    Lego_smoking_catfish
  • T_LarsT_Lars USAMember Posts: 104
    I've got one in the storefront window of my GE. Blue bottom, blue torso with a blue cap.
    Looks kinda neat if you know what you're looking at.
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,404
    These were all I had to play with as a young boy. I never had the new mini-figures.
  • The_Mad_VulcanThe_Mad_Vulcan SeattleMember Posts: 162
    Good old Todd, living up to his name.
  • TLGTLG Member Posts: 125
    How old are you Todd?
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,936
    TLG said:

    How old are you Todd?

    Not a day older than 33. Of course. It's in his name. ;-)
    caperberry
  • dannyrwwdannyrww WisconsinMember Posts: 1,322
    In that donation I only found one minifigure. He was in a black outfit (sticker residue on chest) and had a white hat (captains or police hat). My guess is these were played with from late 70s to early 80s. Now I was about 3 or 4 when they transitioned to minifigures, but I never had or played with any of these pre-minifigure figures. Any one know at what time Lego phased these out? It looks like from some of the pics linked here that they continued to use them after the minifigure was introduced. Other than statues I can't think of much of a use for them once minifigures were out there, so my guess is the two pieces for the body and legs were phased out shortly after (Though I could see the legs being used for other things).
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 500
    With the minifigs as we now know them showing up in 1978, these pre-minifigs didn't last long after. I know I had the ones like you picture in set 911: Advanced Basic Set from 1976. This body style existed from about 1975-1983, and showed up in approximately 50 different sets (depending on how you calculate sets that were given different numbers based on the country of release).

    As they are such a unique shape, I've actually been surprised that their price on bricklink has not raised up, significantly past the $.20 US price for the torso.

    Most likely, being on the market for only 3 years before the 1978 wave of torsos with arms creates too small of a "nostalgia" window for AFOLers. Like me, I had a few of these minifigs, but then classic space showed up, and everything was awesome!
    dannyrwwAndor
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    edited November 2014
    They were all we had back in the 1970s minifig scale (new style minifigs were about '78), although I remember playing with these much more:

    image

    image

    The old style minifig was phased out about 1982/83. As the legs had regular stud rather than long ones like modern minifigs, it meant you could easily add belts in a contrasting colour by using a 2x1 plate (or same colour to add a little height - the modern legs don't allow that flexibility).

    There were also a few sets where both styles were used:

    image

    Notice the statue is the old style.
    dannyrwwklinton
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,088
    edited November 2014
    Almost let this thread slip by (thanks for the heads up madforLEGO!!) ;-)

    There were 2 phases to early LEGO figures..... one was those related to the Homemaker sets and "Building Sets with People", and are known as Maxifigs. The first Homemaker doll house type sets were introduced in 1971. However they didn't have figures to them until 1974, when the Maxifig was introduced in the 200 LEGO Family Set.

    image

    This set 200 was sort of a watershed for future LEGO Minifigs... when this set was introduced in January 1974, sales were so strong that in Britain the entire year long allotment of these sets were sold out by May 1974.

    TLG did take notice... and besides having other sets with these Maxifigs, they introduced the LEGO "Minifig Stiffs" the following year in 1975. These, as have been described already, have a single solid upper and lower torso, without arms or legs. Only the faceless head and hair/hat was compatible with later (1978 introduced) Minfigs.

    One of the more interesting "Building Sets With People" had both the Maxifigs, and a single minifig (stiff) as a papoose... was the 215 Indians set of 1977...

    image

    With the introduction of the regular Minifigs in 1978, the stiffs were almost immediately retired, although that 1592 Town Square set did have that interesting statue.

    And the Maxifigs were also retired, along with the Homemaker sets that introduced them. The last homemaker set was the 1982 released (USA only) Schoolroom Set. Around that same time the last of the Basic sets that had them was also discontinued.

    I'm adding a new chapter to my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide desktop download... on the history of the Minifig... and my research came across the story on how the 200 Family Set was the original catalyst for the Minifig craze of today! ;-)
    dannyrwwAndorLittleLoriAanchirDeMontescatwranglerAstrobricksthedingman5
  • flowerpotgirlflowerpotgirl ScotlandMember Posts: 147
    I still have my childhood maxi figures and homemaker sets. I love these, and would not part with them, although they do not fit with my current Lego. You could use slope bricks to make them sit down.
  • MorkManMorkMan Phoenix, Arizona, USAMember Posts: 853
    I have my maxi figures from my old #200 in my office and people ask if they are real LEGO or not!
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,404
    @TLG Oldtodd33 is my Ebay name when I signed up there 15 years ago. So that makes me 48 currently.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,267
    Actually the other fun fact is the current LEGO minifigure was used as a child in some of the later maxi-figure sets.
    Andor
  • NeilJamNeilJam USAMember Posts: 269
    I still have some of these minifigs. It's not entirely correct to say they didn't have legs or arms. The figures did have them, they just were not articulated. Every figure had their arms to the side (apparently with their hands in pockets).

    Also had the maxi-figures and tried to make some females anatomically correct using sloped bricks, but it didn't quite look right. Didn't make much use of them after the modern minifigs were introduced.

    Both types of figures were featured in a few of the old Universal Buildings Sets, which is where many of mine came from.
  • I myself have just inherited several of these. I love them and will include them as historical memorials through my city
    flowerpotgirl
  • SamsoniteSamsonite CanadaMember Posts: 6
    I found these in a Canadian Samsonite 9903 bucket from 1987. I would guess they would be originally from the 1970's. Has anyone seen these figures with multi colour bodies? The heads and arms are of course detachable but the two colour body bricks are one piece. 
  • LittleLoriLittleLori CanadaMember Posts: 122
    The 2 colour body piece will separate and can be mixed too.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,267
  • M1J0EM1J0E Calgary, ABMember Posts: 395
    We had a couple of the stiff figs from #712 & they were always used as mannequins or statues.  Always thought they were kinda neat.  Still have them in a small bag of ‘vintage’ pieces salvaged out of childhood sets which were too good to throw away, but not enough left of a set to make it worth restoring.  

    Now the maxifigs had a couple interesting properties out of them to me at least.  I vaguely remember set #200, but the only remnant left of maxifigs in the vintage bag is a blue cap (as in set #250), so it’s possible we had a couple sets, or they all came in a samsonite packaged building set that isn’t documented at brickset.  
    1. The first thing about the maxifigs I found cool as a child, is we had set #614, with a hitch.  When you don’t have the corresponding ball to go with the socket, maxifig hands work well enough as a substitute.  
    2. One of my childhood allowance money sets, #6882 (is there another?) used maxifig arm pieces.  Thankfully I left the arm intact by that point, rather than pulling it apart all the time & breaking the links.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    ^ Yes there were a number of sets that used the arm hingpieces like this:

    Bludchylde1LittleLoriFowlerBrickscatwranglerAstrobricks
  • M1J0EM1J0E Calgary, ABMember Posts: 395
    edited June 20
    ^ Thanks muchly CCC!  I had an idea there must’ve been more classic space sets like the last two you show, but I had no idea about the arctic sets using maxifig arm pieces as hinges.  Interesting that such a seemingly obsolete piece was used up until Y2K.  I especially like #6579 as it really does confirm my childhood experimentation that the maxifig wrist joints are standard Lego ball/socket fits since they use a seemingly unrelated ball joint part to fit into the arm.

    EDIT: actually I just had to take a second look at #6573, not realizing they made an arm piece part where the other end is a technic connector.  Cool!  
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    Yeah, I remember pulling loads of hands off of maxifigures to use them with the towball sockets to make trains.
    M1J0ELittleLori
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,088
    edited June 21
    Samsonite said:
    I found these in a Canadian Samsonite 9903 bucket from 1987. I would guess they would be originally from the 1970's. Has anyone seen these figures with multi colour bodies? The heads and arms are of course detachable but the two colour body bricks are one piece. 
    The 9903 white round bucket set of Samsonite of Canada doesn't show any type of figures in any images of the set I have.  These LEGO Maxifigs were last seen in the 1982 Schoolroom Homemaker set (USA only).

    It's also possible that since TLG bought the Samsonite of Canada LEGO license back from Kohlberg Kravitz & Roberts in 1985 (the Wall Street brokerage firm that bought and broke apart the Beatrice Corp., which owned Samsonite since 1973)... the continuation of LEGO production of Samsonite of Canada's LEGO production (in Stratford Ontario) was scheduled to end in summer 1988 anyway... possibly Samsonite of Canada may  have put leftover LEGO items into some Canadian sets to get rid of them.  But that's just a guess.  In October 1988 the Samsonite plant in Stratford sold off all their leftover LEGO in bulk plastic bags, and production moved to Enfield CT USA (now Mexico).

    FYI... Samsonite became an independent company again, and remains so today... but without LEGO.

    9903 set....







    Images from my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide.
    gmonkey76madforLEGOcatwrangler
  • SamsoniteSamsonite CanadaMember Posts: 6
    Thanks for the information especially about the 9903 set. These early minifig arms come right off the body part (Bricklink part 792c03). The body is one part that can't be seperated and is shown in the Bricklink catalog as being produced in just one colour, not two.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 17,515
    The shoulder parts are a bit like Fabuland and Duplo figures - they aren't meant to be separated, but they can be.
    LittleLori
  • CharmiefcbCharmiefcb SydneyMember Posts: 120
    M1J0E said:
    ^ Thanks muchly CCC!  I had an idea there must’ve been more classic space sets like the last two you show, but I had no idea about the arctic sets using maxifig arm pieces as hinges.  Interesting that such a seemingly obsolete piece was used up until Y2K.  I especially like #6579 as it really does confirm my childhood experimentation that the maxifig wrist joints are standard Lego ball/socket fits since they use a seemingly unrelated ball joint part to fit into the arm.

    EDIT: actually I just had to take a second look at #6573, not realizing they made an arm piece part where the other end is a technic connector.  Cool!  
    Just to add Aquazone in the mid-90's used those pieces alot. In almost every set.
    M1J0Ecatwrangler
  • M1J0EM1J0E Calgary, ABMember Posts: 395
    ^ Thanks!  I admit after reading all this I looked up the arm pieces on bricklink & was surprised to see all the sets they were used in!  For whatever reason that escaped my attention.  Interesting contrast to the stiff figs which didn’t appear again, aside from as a statue in the town square set, after minifigs appeared.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,794
    I find that the transitional period from "maxifigs" and proto-minifigs to the LEGO Minifigure as we know it today is interesting to look at from the perspective of LEGO's evolving approach to market segmentation:
    In 1974, maxifigs were the universal standard, appearing in plenty of masculine-coded sets like #196, feminine-coded sets like #263, and even ones that could be considered relatively gender-neutral like #200.
    This was the year that the "Little Girls Think Big" catalog (the back cover of which periodically goes viral) was originally published. It did not advertise only the more feminine-coded sets, but even so it was riddled with stereotypical domestic lifestyle scenarios, despite the message at the end that it was fine for girls to enjoy building spaceships or other things considered more masculine than dollhouse play.
    The main UK catalog for the year was generally very progressive in terms of its lifestyle photos, showing girls and boys playing together with about all the different types of sets except the Homemaker dollhouse range, which was predictably still shown only with girls playing with the sets.
    But it's telling that LEGO still saw a need for a separate leaflet advertising specifically to girls, and a message pushing back against gender-based limitations on kids' building in THAT leaflet rather than the main catalog.
    This suggests LEGO was still primarily attempting to push back against "building is for boys" stereotypes, rather than at a point where they were already succeeding at reaching boys and girls in equal measure.
    In 1975, the proto-minifig made its debut. Neither the sets using "maxifigs" nor those using proto-minifigs were universally coded to one gender or another in terms of lifestyle photos, subject matter, or labeling.
    The main UK catalog did still promote the Homemaker sets using clearly gendered play scenarios and language, but it did not specifically advertise any sets specifically to girls or specifically to boys.
    And a second UK catalog focusing more on the newest sets displayed and advertised these sets on a page dedicated to the "LEGO Family" (the term for this style of figure preferred in that region and time period) without any clear distinctions along gender lines or even between the "Homemaker" range and other "Building Sets With People".
    Perhaps this is a sign that LEGO was slowly closing the gender gap in their buying audience? But on the other hand, this was also the year that Duplo (referred to as "Nursery Bricks" in these catalogs but as "Duplo" on the packaging) made its debut.
    As such, I'm more inclined to believe that the decreasing emphasis on gender-based market segmentation in that sets year's catalogs was meant to avoid creating confusion around the new (and much more important from a safety standpoint) age-based market segmentation.
    1976 brought a few notable changes to the world of LEGO design and marketing. For one thing, maxifigs began appearing in "Basic" brick assortments (more or less the equivalent of today's Classic theme) rather than just in playsets with specific builds (the equivalent of today's "play themes" like City or Friends).
    Additionally, age-based market segmentation began to expand. Previously, all sets besides preschool/Duplo sets were marked and advertised exclusively for children over three years old, more of a legally mandated toy safety requirement than a mere marketing strategy.
    Conversely, the 1976 UK catalog labeled the Homemaker theme, the new Advanced Basic Sets like #910, and all new or returning sets that we'd consider "minifig scale" or "microscale" by today's standards as "From 6 Years". The new Universal Motor Set #107 even put a 6+ age recommendation on its box. And the new Hobby Sets, similar in contents if not complexity to the Model Team them or today's Creator Expert vehicles, were advertised "From 9 Years".
    In the motor's case, it's not clear if there were toy safety concerns since electric toys are subject to different regulations than regular plastic toys, and the wires and contacts seem to have been far less "idiot-proof" than Powered Up or Power Functions wires.
    But the other examples are LEGO's first real acknowledgment that older kids have a more advanced skill level and a tendency to prefer more challenging builds than younger kids, and their first time advertising sets to different age groups in accordance with that.
    As gender-based segmentation goes, most of the product lines in this catalog show photos of both boys and girls alongside them. However, the section for the Homemaker sets features only photos of a girl, the pages for the new 6+ train sets show only photos of boys, and the page for the Hobby Sets show an older boy and his grandmother.
    These are perhaps the first indication of the mistaken assumptions that later led to the simplistic builds in themes like Belville or the 2000s version of Scala — that girls lacked the patience to enjoy more complex builds, and would prefer simple snap-together builds they can start playing with almost immediately.
    Of course, it could also be interpreted as a matter of who LEGO expected the subject matter and play patterns associated with those product lines to appeal to — but that still raises the question of why they didn't create sets in those product lines that girls might be more likely to enjoy.
    And although still advertised to both boys and girls, it's worth noting that some of the new 3+ sets are becoming more gendered in terms of subject matter and figure selection than some of the previous "Building Sets with People" we've seen: #210 and #256 are very masculine-coded with their smartly-dressed male characters geared towards action scenarios, while #211 is far more feminine-coded with its brightly colored female characters in a domestic/nurturing scenario.
    The 1976 UK LEGO Experts Guide catalog pushes gendered messaging even further (and in a pretty unmistakably sexist manner). The vast majority of the cool sets for "champion builders" are advertised specifically to boys through the characters of Tom, Jack, and Jerry.
    Most of the more feminine-coded sets are relegated to the final page with the heading "Be like Tom and Jack: give LEGO presents to brothers, sisters, and friends". Here the 6+ Homemaker range shares space with the 3+ Basic Sets and Building Sets with People as well as the Preschool range.
    The clear implication is that despite a shared target range with other sets in this catalog (which you would never know from reading this one, which doesn't specify their target age at all), the Homemaker dollhouse-style sets are for the families and friends of "expert builders", and not suitable for "expert builders" themselves.
    Lyichir
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,794
    Continuing from my previous post (since the scope of this topic has gotten even more out of control than the usual length of my posts):
    It would be wrong to bring up the sets of 1977 without addressing set #215 Red Indians and its implications about race and skin color. Mind you, it was not the first time LEGO struggled with depicting racial diversity or multiculturalism in the world of LEGO.
    #239, a German idea book from 1968, had some rather fraught depictions of North American racial diversity in its ninth chapter, "Wir bauel de Neue Welt" ("We Build the New World"), beginning on page 80, and the multilingual Idea Book #240-2 did not do too much better with its models of two Middle-Eastern scenes and a Chinese rickshaw.
    All the lifestyle photos described earlier in this post also feature white European families. This, as well as the lack of sets or advertising normalizing racial or cultural diversity, are almost certainly less about racism than the implicit biases and assumptions of mainstream culture at the time, particularly in a country like Denmark that has a very small non-white population even today.
    It's also possible that concerns about inflaming the still bitter racial divisions in some countries like the United States might've motivated LEGO to keep depictions of racial diversity at arms length. I have seen some, perhaps valid, concerns that in the early days of the minifigure LEGO might have been just as worried about the prospect of kids building scenes depicting race riots or other types of race-based violence as they were about kids depicting death or weapons of war.
    But the Red Indians set is a clear indication that even in instances that LEGO was willing to depict racial diversity in the 70s, it was often still driven by a Eurocentric sense of exoticism and by mainstream cultural stereotypes rather than any desire to make actual non-white builders feel authentically represented in the world of LEGO. This set also challenges the notion that LEGO's initial use of Bright Yellow as a skin tone was intended to keep LEGO characters "raceless". At this point, as in the earlier Idea Books, it seems more a matter of approximating light skin in the company's heavily restricted color palette.
    That same year, LEGO introduced the first Duplo figures, described in the 1977 UK main catalog as "New. Funny Figures in LEGO Nursery Bricks". But furthering the point that yellow skin had seemingly not been considered a unifying raceless ideal at this time, these early figures used white as their default skin tone.
    Other than this aside, LEGO's approach to market segmentation along gender and age lines remained largely the same as before, though the follow up to the "Expert Builders Guide" catalog furthered the sexist messaging from a year before with its title, "For LEGO champion builders: Especially for us big boys".
    Once more, lifestyle photos in this catalog exclusively featured boys, and the products featured are universally masculine coded. This time, however, the Building Set with People and Homemaker ranges are omitted entirely, even brand-new sets aimed at a 6+ age range like #276, #277, and #296, as though it was no longer important for "Champion Builders" to even be aware of their existence. The proto-minifig playsets, train sets, and hobby sets are where LEGO expected their "champion" male buyers to focus their attention.
    I've been mostly focusing on the UK catalogs here, but an important milestone absent from those was the new Technic sets advertised in a German leaflet. These seemingly didn't make their UK debut until a year later. The leaflet in question is titled …die Hierausforderung für Männer ab 9: Technik wie in Wirklichkeit!". Loosely translated, this means: "…the challenge for men 9 and up: engineering just like real life!" Here we see perhaps the ultimate example of building skill, maturity, and maleness being treated as one unified concept: These sets, we're told, are for MEN, and even if you're only 9 years old, the implication is that by enjoying these sets you can be a MAN, too! *cringe*
    Lyichir
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,794
    edited June 22
    Part 3 of this retrospective boondoggle I've somehow gotten myself into (and LAST, I promise!):
    All that brings us to 1978, the year the modern minifigure was introduced. The 1978 UK main catalog kept the language, presentation, and design of the Duplo "nursery bricks" and 3+ "Basic Sets", and "Model Sets" gender-neutral as usual, with masculine-coded, feminine-coded, and non-gendered play scenarios presented without any separation betwneen them.
    The next two pages covering the "Homemaker" range, on the other hand, again featured a much more gendered header: "NEW mainly for girls from 6 years". Despite that turn of phrase, the following blurb did not mention any potential interest boys might have in them, describing instead how "With these sets girls can play at what really interests them", and the rather patronizing reassurance that "Special wall components in the big boxes make it quick and easy to build walls". Again, this suggests that LEGO was fully convinced of the misconception that girls were less likely to have patience for large builds than boys in the same age range.
    An aside: as an American child of the 90s brought up on LEGO media defined by a tone of ridiculously over-the-top excitement (as in the LEGO Maniac's catchphrase, "Gotta Build Like Crazy!"), there's something really bizarre to me about how headings in UK catalogs from this time often used much less emotive punctuation or sometimes none at all. It feels strangely incongruous with the use of capitalization for emphasis, and makes me imagine a salesperson shouting "NEW" while trying to seem as un-enthused as possible.
    These days, funnily enough, it's UK-based LEGO media that seems to be the domain of cheesy slang and hyperbolic excitement, as we see in the UK LEGO magazines from Immediate Media that advertise their included gift sets as "SICK!", "EPIC!", or most hilariously "MASSIVE!" (which they are decidedly not).
    Subsequent pages of the 1978 catalog, including the pages new "LEGOLAND" range and its new "mini-figures", revert to gender-neutral language, although most of the sets in this range skew masculine in their typical subject matter and feature only boys in their lifestyle photos.
    The new "Technical sets" are also advertised "for young people of 9 and older" in both the main 1978 catalog and the UK Technical Sets catalog. There is thankfully no unnecessary gender-specific language or exaggerated language referring to the buyers' "manliness", despite all the sets clearly boy-targeted in terms of the subject matter of the sets and the lifestyle photos alongside them.
    The "Hobby Sets", on the other hand, start out advertising to "collectors over 9 year" (sic) and "expert LEGO builders who enjoy a challenge" before adding that "Models like this make a fine decoration in a boy's room for his friends to admire".
    This persistent emphasis on more advanced LEGO sets being a tool for earning friends' admiration almost feels like a more chaste take on the cliche magazine ad sales pitch that has been blatant or implicit in a lot of advertising aimed at adults and teens well into the present day: "Women will want you; men will want to BE you!"
    As another personal aside, I found it rather shocking as I was first getting into video games in the 90s to see how blatant schlocky sexism like this was even in ads for games with no sexual, romantic, or gendered themes whatsoever. It was just the go-to advertising method for any product that had a large teen/adult male audience, or even for non-gendered products advertised in media popular with that demographic.
    In the case of these sorts of LEGO ads and blurbs, it's fortunately not nearly as misogynistic in assuming sexual frustration on the part of its audience, but it does seem to prey on more general insecurities boys might have about whether or not they're respected by their peers, which other advertisers have often employed in equally exploitative ways.
    So while I do like the idea of LEGO as something that can reinforce social connections, I'm kind of glad that LEGO is no longer blatantly advertising sets as a means of earning peers' respect, even though a lot of the most advanced sets today almost certainly command even more power as a status symbol than the "Hobby Sets" of the 70s due to their much greater complexity and higher prices.
    Wrapping up, I think what makes this period of time especially interesting is how many misconceptions that "LEGO has always been gender neutral" there were in the wake of LEGO Friends' launch.
    In reality, I think it's fair to give them credit in the mid-20th century for ASPIRING to be gender neutral, but by the late 70s the actual efforts they put forth to that effect had been reduced to low-profile product lines that achieved minimal success, dwarfed by an increasing variety of product lines aimed at a largely male audience.
    It's hard to look at this context and really believe the minifigure was intended as gender-neutral from the get-go. If it was ever intended to appeal equally to boys and girls, it did an exceptionally poor job achieving that goal.
    After all, while the new, posable minifigure quickly replaced both the proto-minifigs and "maxifigs" in most themes after their introduction, "maxifigs" remained the standard for the "Homemaker"/"Dolls Houses" sets. By 1981, the Dolls Houses were the only use of the "maxifigs" remaining in UK catalogs.
    Over the past eight years, LEGO Friends has shown that it's no difficult task to create play experiences that girls love even at around the same scale as boy-targeted themes like City. You'd expect LEGO to have at least attempted the same in the 80s when the minifigure had become such a hit.
    Yet for an entire decade after the minifigure's introduction, the feminine-coded play scenarios that LEGO has now achieved practically LEGO City-level success with since the launch of the Friends theme made up just a tiny fraction of the products present in the "LEGOLAND" range's Town, Space, and Castle themes.
    I can't think why that would be unless the minifigure's popularity from its very first appearance was overwhelmingly concentrated among boys. And if that's the case, the disparity between male and female LEGO builders that LEGO Friends and the mini-doll have done so much to correct was not simply yet another way that LEGO lost their way in the 90s and 2000s, but rather an oversight as old as the minifigure itself.
    I have to wonder how differently things might have turned out if girls had been taken more seriously as a potential audience of enthusiastic and capable builders back when the minifigure's design was first being devised.
    Would LEGO have even had enough skill at market research and design back then to avoid all the inherent shortcomings of what would become one of their most iconic symbols, preventing any need for the sort of controversy that would result from having to design a figure without those same shortcomings 30 years later?
    TheOriginalSimonBLyichirjpeg07stlux
  • TheOriginalSimonBTheOriginalSimonB Felixstowe Member Posts: 1,262
    Top research and insights there. Thinking back 40 years to when I was 8 and minifigs were new I did hang out with both boys and girls, but can’t recall the girls having LEGO at all.  Even sisters of my male friends who did have sets didn’t really show much interest.

    And I do recall getting “funny” comments when I built houses rather than concentrating on cars and spaceships.
    AanchirLyichir
  • M1J0EM1J0E Calgary, ABMember Posts: 395
    Thanks for sharing all the insights, taking the time to write everything up, even if I’m not sure I have anything to comment on or add to the discussion.  Appreciated reading it all.  
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,404
    I have a comment but I'll keep it to myself. 
    SprinkleOtter
Sign In or Register to comment.
Recent discussions Categories Privacy Policy